Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Shades Of Gray

(Photo is by F. Martin Ramin for The Wall Street Journal.)

One of the biggest stories in the media in the last few days has been the Sean Penn Interview with "El Chapo". Many want to denigrate Penn for doing the interview, and writing an article that portrays the drug lord as not being without any redeeming values. Penn stated his reason for doing the interview:

"As an American citizen, I'm drawn to explore what may be inconsistent with the portrayals our government and media brand upon their declared enemies."

Of course, Penn is right. Our government (and our media) tend to portray those they don't like as being totally evil. That is seldom, if ever, the reality. Is El Chapo a criminal? Yes. Should he be punished? Yes. But is he totally without any socially redeeming qualities. No, and that is true of all of those who are demonized by our government and press.

Why do they do that? Because it appeals to the mindset of many, if not most, Americans. The American public is prone to view the world as black or white (totally good or totally evil). On one hand, they put those in some professions (police, religious figures, doctors) on a pedestal, and refuse to believe they are capable of wrong-doing. On the other, they tend to view criminals as terrible, and incapable of doing good. Neither is true. All are human beings capable of doing both good and bad (and every human has done both). While some humans are better than others (doing more good), we are all some shade of gray -- neither being as pure as the driven snow or as dark as a moonless night.

And we tend to view our politics (and politicians) the same way -- as being without fault, or being totally useless and wrong. For instance, right-wingers see free enterprise as being the ultimate good (but fail to realize that it must have curbs and regulations to prevent the rich from abusing the poor). And left-wingers see regulation as being good for all (but fail to realize that some regulation can actually inhibit individual freedoms). Neither is black or white -- but some shade of gray.

The same is true of our politicians. There is no such thing as a politician without "warts" (faults). Like the rest of us, they are just human -- and they do good and make mistakes. Anyone who looks hard enough can find something they don't like about any politician. The best we can do is support someone we view as being the lightest shade of gray.

Americans (and probably many in other countries as well) like to see the world and events as black and white. But that is not reality. We live in a gray world. That does not mean we should not try to make it as light a shade of gray as possible. We definitely should. But at the same time, we must realize that everything is a shade of gray -- and nothing is totally perfect nor totally evil.

We may not like that -- but that's the way it is.


  1. And he is probably as much of a criminal as Washington was. Remember he led a WAR that killed thousands cuz he did not want to pay his taxes!!! Almost ANYONE can be made to look good/bad cuz we are all complex critters.


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